Despite the gun control debate and continuing economic doldrums, upland bird hunters are bullish on their sport and their future participation, according to Wingshooting USA television producer/host Scott Linden’s “Upland Nation Index.” Now in its third year, the survey compares a statistical base of 2011 to subsequent years. The most recent numbers are garnered from a survey of over 600 respondents chosen at random from Wingshooting USA viewers completed in January.

Overall purchasing plans for the year show a gain of almost 9 percent versus the base year. Strong categories included hunting vests (up 24 percent), Trucks/SUVs (up 31 percent) and electronic training or GPS collars (up 18 percent). Other data shine light on that optimism: plans to purchase more than three cases of ammo (up over 3 percent), plans to hunt more days than last season (up 12 percent), and number of respondents who hope to hunt at a lodge or preserve, up 18 percent. Over 30 percent hope to buy another hunting dog in 2013.

Linden says recruitment also indicates a market’s optimism. The number of viewers who took a newcomer hunting three or more times last season spiked significantly, up 238 percent over 2012; the total number of viewers who took a newcomer at least once also jumped, up 35 percent versus the prior year.

The Upland Nation Index also measures brand awareness and market share in key product categories. Most categories remained relatively flat through the three-year period. However, several companies saw significant increases in brand awareness: shotgun company Caesar Guerini USA saw an almost 19 percent leap, training collar maker Dogtra jumped 7 percent, and Nutrena’s Loyall dog food brand enjoyed a 53 percent bump. Not surprisingly, all three brands invested heavily in advertising during the period.

“Wingshooting USA viewers are clearly excited about the coming year, whether it’s because the election season is behind them, they are working or earning more, or have simply decided there’s no time like the present to pursue their passion,” Linden said.

The Upland Nation Index is not just about dry statistics, he added. Like his TV show, Linden puts the fun in market fundamentals, asking his viewers which dog breed is their favorite (tie: Labrador Retriever and German Shorthaired Pointer), their favorite game bird (ringneck pheasant) and most popular out-of-state hunting destination, South Dakota.

Wingshooting USA is the official TV series of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and its initiative, www.wingshootingusa.org, where you will find a directory of thousands of hunting preserves and lodges and can enter to win a free hunting trip with your chilled and appear on the TV show. Other Wingshooting USA sponsors include TruckVault, Happy Jack Inc., and Cabela’s.

Image courtesy scottlindenoutdoors.com

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